Booze-fuelled Sheffield driver killed friend after careering down embankment in horror crash

A booze-fuelled driver killed a friend in his car after he careered down an embankment during an horrific collision.

Monday, 14th December 2020, 12:30 pm

Sheffield Crown Court heard on Friday, December 11, how Ricky Lee Hardwick, aged 34, of Pedley Avenue, Westfeld, Sheffield, had visited pubs and had been seen with 25-year-old friend Karl Marsden before he lost control of his Vauxhall Zafira GSi on Station Road, at Halfway, Sheffield, and crashed down an embankment.

Judge Jeremy Richardson QC, The Recorder of Sheffield, told Hardwick: “You killed your friend. This is not a case of murder. It is not a case of manslaughter but you killed your friend as a result of your dangerous driving. You did not intend to kill your friend but you did.”

Gordon Stables, prosecuting, said Hardwick had been driving with Mr Marsden in the front seat and another friend in the rear while heading towards Killamarsh when a motorist saw the Zafira travelling at an estimated 70mph to 80mph near an S-bend with two bridges.

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Pictured is Ricky Lee Hardwick, aged 34, of Pedley Avenue, Westfield, Sheffield, who has been sentenced to seven years of custody after he admitted causing the death of passenger Karl Marsden by dangerous drving and to causing serious injury to another passenger by dangerous driving.

Mr Stables added after negotiating the first bridge Hardwick lost control and crossed into the opposte lane and a pedestrian grabbed his friend as the car swerved before leaving the road and disappearing down an embankment.

A taxi-driver believed the Zafira was travelling at over 90mph and Mr Stables said the Zafira mounted a footpath, collided with two fence lines and rotated and Mr Marsden’s upper body was thrown out of the passenger window before his head collided with a fence post.

The Zafira also collided with a lamppost and a bridge wall, according to Mr Stables, before rotating and hitting the riverbank as Mr Marsden’s body was thrown from the vehicle.

Hardwick who suffered a bleed on the brain told police he could not remember the incident or who had been the driving but it was later established Hardwick and Mr Marsden had both driven the car that evening before Hardwick took to the wheel and crashed.

Pictured is deceased Karl Marsden who died aged 25 after he was killed when he had been a front-seat passenger in a road traffic collision on Station Road, at Halfway, Sheffield.

The court heard metal-worker Hardwick registered over the drink-drive limit and was over the drug-drive limit for a cocaine derivative following the collision after 11pm, on July 1, 2017.

Hardwick, who has previous convictions including motoring offences, pleaded guilty to causing the death of Karl Marsden by dangerous driving and to causng serious injury by dangerous drivng to the other passenger who suffered multiple injuries but survived.

Paul Prior, defending, said: “Mr Hardwick, at the outset, offers everyone who knew Mr Marsden his sincerest apologies.”

He added: “He has lost a very dear, valued friend. He grew up with him. They both relied on each other and they both looked out for each other.”

"No period of imprisonment will expunge his feeling of guilt and loss.”

Christine Marsden, speaking on behalf of Mr Marsden’s family, stated: “The news turned our lives upside down and we will never recover from it.”

She added: "Karl was a very loving, caring son, grandson, brother and dad and uncle and he would do anything to help his family and he is so sadly missed by all.”

Judge Richardson sentenced Hardwick to seven years of custody and disqualified him from driving for ten years to be activated upon his release.

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